Tag Archives: worship

Why Should Christians Care About the Church? (Part 2 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of July 23, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Many people think that they have no need of church.  We will explore why we do need it, and why.

The church has transitioned to such a degree where church, here in America, is more of an enterprise.  It is bigger than any corporation or business.  It is not organized as a business would be, but it functions in a similar way.  The product is in high demand, and it is only available through the church.  It is guaranteed for life.

John 3:16

For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit is the distributor of information, and the head of it is Jesus Christ.  The priests that go forth on behalf of the church are its members—the body of Christ.  There is no company that exists that can do for you what the church does.

The church teaches how to live a spiritual life that emulates Jesus Christ.  In living such a life, you will see how that means living a sacrificial life for Him.

The church stands on its own.  It stands on the strength of the One who is its head—Jesus Christ.  It stands on its own without government existence.  The church is to raise up leaders that will provide societal leadership.  It provides godly people who can serve in government and society, and that will continue to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  It provides guidance for generation after generation.

The church is strongest when the entire family is in the church hearing the message and worshiping together.

In the church, we have priests (servants) who lead the people.  They are a group of people that are chosen by God.  They stand with the mindset that is ready to serve God.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation. These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.

The church is a congregation of priests ready to serve the Lord.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has chosen you to represent Him and serve Him.  You are His treasured possession!

Isaiah 61:6a

But you will be called the Lords priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God.

God will always provide the finances for His program.  If He wills it, He will fund it.  He knows what it takes to do His work.  God never assigns us to do anything in and of your own strength.  He does not want to open up the occasion where anyone can take the credit for it other than Himself.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The church moves in response to God’s voice speaking to the people, and the people’s actions are those of submissive hearts.

Romans 10:9-10

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

If you are saved and serve in the church, Jesus Christ is the High Priest that leads you.  It is important for you to stay busy at what God has called you to do in ministry.  Remain faithful where God has called you to be, and work at it.  The High Priest, Jesus Christ, remains on the throne and He meets the needs of the church.

Many people in the church are willingly serving Jesus Christ, but there are still those in the church that largely serve themselves.  A lot of people who attend church do not know the Lord.  They’re not there to serve.

Hebrews 7:24

But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.

Psalm 110:4

The Lord has shown an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Mechizedek.”

It is the work of God that has to take place in a man’s heart.

1 Peter 2:4-5

As you come to him, a living stonerejected by people but chosen and honored by Godyou yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

God had chosen the Levites to serve as priests before Him and the Israelites.  Those who were born as Levites were not yet able to serve until they turned age 25.  Until that time, they had to undergo training within the temple.  They had to learn about service before they could serve.

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

We are challenged to represent God with holy hearts and a holy mind.  He expects us to live in such a manner as we serve Him.  Your work for Him is your sacrifice unto Him.

Philippians 1:6

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the priesthood is healthy, the church is healthy.  The healthy priesthood has one agenda, and that is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Joshua 7:7-8

Oh, Lord God, Joshua said, why did you ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

Joshua was praying about the sins of the nation of Israel.  Keep in mind that there will be sin within the midst of the body of Christ, and He will challenge the church to pray.  The sin revealed hurts others and is a distraction to God’s agenda.  He calls for His believers to seek Him in all things and pray about those situations that hinder the work of Christ.

The churches are not all the same, but all believers have different gifts that they are endowed with, and they have their role; for example, in the book of Acts, Dorcas and Lydia lived out their own roles that they fulfilled in their own ministries.

As a priest of God, you have direct access to Him.

Each priest is in charge of his own temple.  He or she is responsible for how to take care of one’s own body.

Today’s priest does not need to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament.  He chose you to serve for Him.

Deuteronomy 7:6

For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

God honors and glorifies His own name.  Believers need to stand up and represent Him with the appropriate service.  Our actions will glorify Him and reflect His goodness as a testimony to others.

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Prayer: What Difference Does it Make? (Part 5 of a Series)

Today’s message summary of February 19, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

1 John 5:14-15

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

We have previously discussed a number of different postures of prayer, and each of these have helped us to identify how we approach God in prayer.  Today we will look at an analysis of written prayers in the Bible.

There is a prayer in the Bible that we often recite. It is found in Matthew, Chapter 6:

Matthew 6:5-15

Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him. Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver is from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you a well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

 

This passage was part of the Sermon on the Mount.  It was an extensive message that covers four chapters in Matthew (5-8), and this section in Scripture is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  That reference is not really correct in that the Lord Himself would not have prayed such a prayer.  A closer reference to this passage for our purposes would be “How to Pray,” as it a means for how we should be praying to Him.

We know that Jesus Christ prayed often, and He prayed throughout His ministry…even as He was on the cross.  He provides the example for each of us as to the importance of frequent prayer, and He went away and prayed in secret.

When it comes to prayer, you should ask yourself how long you pray, especially when you occupy your time to other things.  How long we pray may be an indicator as to how deep your relationship is with God.

Jesus warns not to behave like the Pharisees, who were hypocritical in their practice of faith.  We must also guard ourselves in this practice, as well.  Our church practice is to go beyond religiosity.  We are to fellowship with one another and live out or faith everywhere we go.

Jesus said that you should pray publicly if your intent is just to be noticed, then that is hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with praying publicly, for it is perfectly good to pray over your meal in a restaurant or to speak to a person as the Spirit leads you, but the answer to this open prayer should be a humble approach of prayer in a private setting.  We are to move away from people and pray in secrecy.

The result of your prayers in secret is the reward that you receive from God in your humility and sincerity.

Do you pray for someone’s healing, or a job for yourself, or even wisdom?  Whatever the prayers are, they are to be specific and not so general as to lose their meaning.  Repeating words over and over does not magnify the significance of your prayer.  Jesus tells the people at the sermon to not be like the worshipers of Baal or the Gentiles who were looking to things other than God.  Jesus wants us to pray in specificity.  Know who you are praying to!

It is imperative that we continue our study of theology, because the more that we learn about theology, the more that it impacts our words and actions about God.  This has an important effect on how we approach prayer.

God indeed knows our needs before we ask of Him.  He is involved with every single detail of your life.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.  Since He already knows what we need, will he give it to us? It is important to distinguish needs from wants.

Psalm 38:9

Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from you.

 

Psalm 139:7

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?

 

God provides what we need in accordance to His will.  He answers the prayers of a humble heart and provides blessing as we learn more about Jesus Christ.

Our prayers to Him are to acknowledge that He is ever-present and that He is holy.  Your prayers are to reflect that you recognize His holiness.  Seeking God and uplifting His name is a contrast to uplifting ourselves or even the name of Satan.

His kingdom is a present reality, and He notes that you have dual citizenship on earth and in heaven (Ephesians 2:19).  Our prayers should reflect the reverence of Christ as our coming King.

God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything in this world.  God’s providence is that he will accomplish everything according to His will.

Everything that Jesus accomplished was done according to God’s will and His obedience to God.

We should be confident, in our prayers, that His will be done for all to see.

Your prayers reflect that God is the One who provides for you, and not so much that you rely upon yourself (Proverbs 30:8).

Prayers of forgiveness are to be common in that we are to ask Christ for forgiveness of sin, and that this same approach is to be given to others who sin against us.  This is the essence of Christlike behavior (Romans 13:7-8).

When we ask God to not lead us into temptation, He responds.  He will keep us from those things that are more than what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God wants to see each one of us be filled with the Spirit in prayer, and to live according to His instruction as to how we are to pray.  We are to pray to seek a greater understanding of Him and that we will live according to His will.  Amen.


Understanding that Jesus is Coming

Today’s message summary of December 18, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Most of us conclude that Jesus’ coming is for salvation, but it is actually much more than that.  His coming does mean salvation for those who believe in Him, as He reconciles those who believe to the Father, but He came for a much deeper purpose.  Whether one responds to the gospel or not does not change who He is.

The general conception, which the Rabbis and Israel formed of the Messiah, is different from what was presented by Jesus Himself.

The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to have God speak to the people concerning His relationship with humanity.  He spoke about the desire that He had (and still has) to have a relationship with His people.  Bringing Christ forth was to show everyone who He really is.

Jesus, as God in the flesh, presented the fundamentals of the Christian life, and the final relationship in view of God towards humanity and humanity towards God.

It was a relationship of endearment expressed as follows:

  1. Expressed by the word Father (Matthew 6)
  2. Expressed by the word Servant (Philippians 2:6-7)

By His coming, He joins together the two ideals of the Son and the Servant.

Matthew 20:28

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His lifea ransom for many.

 

Matthew 4:10

Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”

 

Luke 1:73b-75

He has given us the privilege, since we have been rescued from our enemies’ clutches, to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.

 

As the servant of the living God, Jesus fulfills the threefold office of God.

Samuel fulfilled the offices of prophet, priest and judge.

Jesus fulfilled the office of Prophet (Hebrews 1:2).  He came to speak the words of His Father to us.  They were words of truth.

John 1:16-17

Indeed, we all have received grace after grace from His fullness, for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

 

When people do not receive the truth of God’s Word, they don’t know how to live a life pleasing to God.

Truth always gives the people light.

John 1:4, 9

Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.

The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

 

The light, at the time of Jesus’ coming, was not a true light.

Jesus as a Priest:  He became the Priest of all the people.  Israel was without a true priesthood…one that would serve God and the people.  The priesthood was the representation of an intercessor between God and man.  Jesus was the true high Priest.

Hebrews 4:10, 14-15

For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.

 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens–Jesus the Son of God–let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 5:9-10

After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, and He was declared by God a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

Hebrews 7:23-26

Now many have become Levitical priest, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

 

Hebrews 9:11

But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation).

 

Hebrews 10:11-12

Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

 

Without a godly priesthood—the true servants of God—the world and the people suffer.  The people were without God because the priesthood was without God. They were without God because of their willingness to forsake God; as a result, the world suffered because of its willingness to not obey God.

When there is no true priesthood, we lose teaching (of the law).  Without teaching, there is a lost relationship with God.  Without such a relationship, we lose His blessings and experience the suffering of humanity without the love and knowledge of God.  The teachings of man are inadequate.

Mark 7:6-7

He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

 

Jesus came to be our King.  He was not just the King of the Jews, but the King of all.  King of all kings.

Matthew 2:2b

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

 

John 18:37

“You are a king then?” Pilate asked. “You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

 

Romans 14:11-12

For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

 

Revelation 17:14

These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.

 


Be Filled (Part 5) – A Spirit-Filled Church

Today’s message of August 21, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

If you consider church planting, there are several things that can be considered.  Some leadership teams in this effort focus on only outreach to the unsaved.  Another church model is the teaching model, which focuses on doctrine.  Another model is that of discipleship.  All of these are good, but a better church model as derived from the text in Acts Chapter 2, which would be the model for a Spirit-filled church.

There are at least eight markers of a Spirit-filled church:

Preaching of the gospel
Devotion to God’s Word
Intentional fellowship
Prayer
Godly fear
Commonality
Corporate worship
Praising God

Acts 2:37-47 ESV

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them,“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The preaching of the gospel is the most important marker for any church plant or any church ministry.  A Spirit-filled church must go to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Everything rests upon the gospel.  A church that is not preaching the gospel is an apostate church.

Galatians 1:6-9 ESV

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
How do you identify the church that preaches the gospel?  By the preaching of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther and John Calvin challenged the Catholic Church on the doctrine of faith and grace.  It is faith and grace that saves, and not works.  Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man, and not the pope.  The reformers fought the Catholic Church with their very lives, because they deemed it to be paramount over everything.

Acts 2:16-25

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[b] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

The reformers noted what Peter was preaching, and that his audiences were cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit and needed to reckon with the judgment of God.  Only the power of the gospel can do this.

Five Solas:
Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)
Sola Fide (faith alone)
Sola Gratia (grace alone)
Sola Christus (Christ alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)

The gospel not only convicts but helps people take personal responsibility by placing trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Living a lifestyle of repentance is the result.

The gospel message is simple, and all that is required is belief by faith in Jesus Christ.

Being devoted to God’s Word (Acts 2:42)

The explicit meaning is for the desire of all who hear the gospel to study His Word.  The implicit meaning of v. 42 was the result of 3,000 people coming to know Jesus Christ.

The gospel is preached–people hear it and accept Christ–then make disciples within the group.

Acts 17:10-12

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Psalm 119:1-7

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous rules.

“There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled Christian who neglects the study of the Word of God.  There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled church that does not give itself continually and steadfastly to the study of sacred Scripture. The first sign of a Spirit-filled church is one in which the Spirit-filled people do not flee from Scripture and seek a substitute for it but are driven to it to have their spiritual lives rooted and grounded in the Word of God.”  –R C Sproul

Intentional fellowship uplifts the group of believers.  Church fellowship is good, but intentional fellowship is encouraged throughout the week.  It is necessary to encourage and admonish one another.

Prayer, the fourth marker of a Spirt-filled church, is very important.  We are to pray for one another.

Colossians 4:2-6

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Prayer reveals the ways in which the gospel can go forth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Godly fear (Acts 2:43)

Acts 5:1-11

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
The word “awe” means “fear.”  The young church witnessed many miraculous things through the apostles, and they would revere God even more.  A church that is not fearing God is in a dangerous place.  There must be a reverence of God in order for people to remain obedient to Him.

Acts 5:12-13

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.
The people understood what they had seen, and they had great reverence for God and His Word.

Commonality (v. 44)

The Word of God tells the Spirit-filled church to be of one mind and one accord.  The Holy Spirit showed the people what they were to do and did so accordingly.

This is important because (1) the church should be its own financial institution (not the government), and (2) it is to provide for the poor and less fortunate–their own members and members of the community.

Many who were widows and were poor and destitute, and it created the opportunity for a number of leaders within the church to serve those needed meals (one of these leaders over the food ministry in the early church was Stephen).

The opposite of commonality is that where there is separation:

Galatians 2:11-14

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Corporate worship (Acts 2:46-47)

Public worship is collectively being together in one place.  Paul planted a church and allowed leaders to be the governing board, and the process is repeated for every plant.  A multi-site church fulfills this requirement.

Praising God is an act of a Spirit-filled church

Acts 2:42

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.


Why the Millennium? (Part 2)

Today’s message summary of August 14, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

These messages about the end times are for the benefit of sharing with those who want to know more about the Lord and to be aware of the signs that are present and yet to come.

Hosea 4:6a

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Whose fault is it for the Millennium?  The Millennium is set up to show how mankind has been evil, and this period is to represent what it originally was like in the Garden of Eden (Adam and Eve).

Do we, as Christians, perform good works, or not?  Throughout history, people have tried every means possible to make the world a better place to live.

Some Christians think that this is the wrong thing to do.

Please understand that everything that Christians do should be with the purpose of presenting Jesus, in order that it brings people to encounter the presence of Jesus Christ.

People are to remember that we are the salt of the world (Matthew 5:13).  Salt is a seasoning and a preservative.  Christians are to be the seasoning and preservers of humanity.  We are in place to witness and work on His behalf to bring as many people as possible to Christ.

Even the best efforts of people to bring others to Jesus Christ have been unsuccessful.  A sinful nature creates an imperfect environment, but it does not mean that we do not continue to work for the best.

Ephesians 6:12-13

For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

What people have never been able to do, Jesus does in the Millennium by setting forth a perfect environment for people.

The Millennium is the last event that will take place on the old earth if you have the last battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium.  Everything from this point will take place in heaven.  The White Throne Judgment will be in heaven and follows the destruction of the old earth.

Important events of the Millennium:

  1. Jesus will be on earth in bodily form. He will, from that point, never leave His people again.
  2. Satan is bound. His activities will be restricted (Genesis 3:13).
  3. The people will live in the environment of Adam.
  4. People will have the free choice to worship and obey Jesus. (The same free will that Adam and Eve had.)
  5. One thousand years will not change the heart of Satan.

Romans 10:17 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

People work to try to improve their old nature, but the old nature cannot be improved.  It can only die.  Your old nature must die to self.  God has to create a new nature in you.

People that go through the Millennium will…

  1. Obey without knowing Jesus as Savior. Why? (You are in a disastrous place without Jesus Christ being at the head of your life.)

Isaiah 11:3-9

His delight will be in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge

by what He sees with His eyes,

He will not execute justice

by what He hears with His ears,

but He will judge the poor righteously

and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.

He will strike the land

with discipline from His mouth,

and He will kill the wicked

with a command from His lips.

Righteousness will be a belt around His loins;

faithfulness will be a belt around His waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

and the leopard will lie down with the goat.

The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together,

and a child will lead them.

The cow and the bear will graze,

their young ones will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

An infant will play beside the cobras pit,

and a toddler will put his hand into a snakes den.

None will harm or destroy another

on My entire holy mountain,

for the land will be as full

of the knowledge of the Lord

as the sea is filled with water.

Like the church, there can be an outward conformity without an inward reality of Jesus.  The heart of the person must change to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,

and incurablewho can understand it?

 

  1. There will be no war.

Micah 4:2-4

and many nations will come and say,

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

to the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us about His ways

so we may walk in His paths.

For instruction will go out of Zion

and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will settle disputes among many peoples

and provide arbitration for strong nations

that are far away.

They will beat their swords into plows,

and their spears into pruning knives.

Nation will not take up the sword against nation,

and they will never again train for war.

But each man will sit under his grapevine

and under his fig tree

with no one to frighten him.

For the mouth of the Lord of Hosts

has promised this.

 

  1. There will be no killing of people by other people.
  1. People will live a long life.

Isaiah 65:20-22

In her, a nursing infant will no longer live

only a few days, or an old man not live out his days.

Indeed, the youth will die at a hundred years,

and the one who misses a hundred years will be cursed.

People will build houses and live in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They will not build and others live in them;

they will not plant and others eat.

For My peoples lives will be

like the lifetime of a tree.

My chosen ones will fully enjoy

the work of their hands.

 

  1. There will be no divorce, physical problems (no disease), drunkenness, or addiction. There will not be any poor, and there will not be any hunger.

It only makes you wonder how people can experience all of this and yet walk away from Him.

Who rules with Jesus, and why?

He will set up a ruling class of righteous people, and will give authority to those who are faithful in service to Him.

Revelation 20:4

Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of Gods word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.

Why do they get to rule with Jesus and not the present saints?

They all come with a supernatural body, while others do not have such a thing.

1 Corinthians 15:40-57

There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. So it is with the resurrection of the dead:

Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;

sown in dishonor, raised in glory;

sown in weakness, raised in power;

sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

The first man was from the earth

and made of dust;

the second man is from heaven.

Like the man made of dust,

so are those who are made of dust;

like the heavenly man,

so are those who are heavenly.

And just as we have borne

the image of the man made of dust,

we will also bear

the image of the heavenly man.

Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery:

We will not all fall asleep,

but we will all be changed,

in a moment, in the blink of an eye,

at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound,

and the dead will be raised incorruptible,

and we will be changed.

For this corruptible must be clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal must be clothed

with immortality.

When this corruptible is clothed

with incorruptibility,

and this mortal is clothed

with immortality,

then the saying that is written will take place:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Death, where is your victory?

Death, where is your sting?

Now the sting of death is sin,

and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ!

  1. Difference between a perishable and imperishable body
  2. There is a body of dishonor and a body raised in glory
  3. Weakness versus power
  4. Natural body and a spiritual body (one for earth and one for heaven)

There must be a change in the body of a person from corruptible to incorruptible…in other words, to be more like Jesus.

Romans 8:28-30

We know that all things work together[a] for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

1 John 3:2

Dear friends, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.

The rest of the dead that are not reigning with Christ because they will be the unbelievers:

Revelation 20:5-6

The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.


Seeking Answers to Questions About God

Today’s message of May 15, 2016 from Melvin Gaines:

When I was very young—about 10 or 11 years old—I was asking myself questions about my life in general. Now, age 10 or 11 may seem rather late in life to start asking these questions, but I honestly did not know much about what was going on until I turned age 7. I can remember some bookmarks tied to the events of that decade. I barely remember John F. Kennedy’s funeral on our black and white television, but I had no concept of what a funeral really meant, let alone who Kennedy was and how monumental that occasion was. I also remember news stories about the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hough riots (in Cleveland), the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the mounting calls to end the war and strive for peace. I also began to pay very close attention to music. I was mindful of the lyrics that epitomized the sounds of the streets and the moods of the people: “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “War” by Edwin Starr and “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon.

The mood of the late sixties and early seventies began to shape my understanding of the world that I was living in. As a black male, I was more conscious of the discussion for equal rights and opportunities for blacks, but I was insulated from a lot of that because of my age and by staying close to home. It was not long before I started paying more attention to the environment where I was growing up. I lived on a tree-lined street in a very nice neighborhood, and I was able to see birds, flowers, gardens and parks all around where I lived in Cleveland and its suburbs. In looking at these things, I started to wonder about where all of these things came from, and also where I came from.

From the moment that you determine that there is something—and even more specifically, someone—who is responsible for life as you experience it, you are now beginning the exercise of learning about God, who He is, His presence and His relevance to you. It may be a matter of asking one of these questions or all of them at one point or another. The key to discovery in this is the amount of time and effort that you take to investigate the answers. Trust me—it will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

How do you begin to answer such questions? There is no predetermined way to do this. When a student asks a teacher a question, the student has an expectation that there is an answer. When I asked my mother for something, my Mom would sometimes reply, “Ask your father.” Sometimes I would ask my father a question, and he would say, “Ask your mother.” I realized that there are times when I have a question about something, but there is no direct or immediate answer. This is also how it is when it comes to questions about God. We have the ability to ask many questions about God, but we also need to realize that there are times when there is no straight answer when it comes to Him.

My questions about God involved His presence. (That was within the first phase of questions.) It was not until much later where I started asking about how His presence related to me. This is what a person contemplates at the very moment when they are considering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is now about reflection and repentance from sin and the need for a Savior. The questions about God don’t end there…they are only just beginning.

First, let’s be clear about something. As we noted earlier, there are no direct or immediate answers as we seek God. Even as we seek Him, we will never get a complete picture of God. Why? As we frame our questions about Him, we need to see God in a completely different way than how we see ourselves. When we do this, we begin to see God as a God who deserves our reverence, our worship and our praise. He is more than just a god. He is the God of the universe.

Here are four different attributes about God that bear consideration:

1.) God is infinite and self-existent. When we use the word “infinite” about God, it means that there are no boundaries about Him. He is without any limits. When it comes to our lives, everything that we are involved in has some sort of limit. We have to use measurements to build things. We have to use numbers to calculate math problems, but there is no number for infinity. It cannot be measured. God, in this way, cannot be measured. In addition to his infinitude, God is self-existent. He is a God without origin. As each of us has a beginning along with everything else that was created, it is hard for us to conceptualize God as, according to A. W. Tozer, the Uncreated One. If you think about it, anything that is or ever was created must have a creator. God is the only One who is self-existent; namely, without a creator.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 HCSB

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father.

All things are from Him, and we exist for Him.

And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.

All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.

As we learn more about Jesus Christ, we discover that He is at one with the Father as the infinite, Uncreated One.

2.) God is sovereign. This means that God is all-knowing and is free to act as He directs at any moment in order to fulfill His will and purpose. With all of the things that have occurred throughout time and space, this is a significant attribute of God.

Daniel 4:17 HCSB

This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones.

This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.

He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer noted that God’s sovereignty raises two additional questions (or problems) from our perspective: one is the presence of evil, pain and death (from the presence of Satan), and the other is the free will of man. As far as sin is concerned, Tozer noted that God, in His sovereign wisdom, “has permitted evil to exist in carefully restricted areas of His creation, a kind of fugitive outlaw whose activities are temporary and limited in scope. In doing this, God has acted according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.” In spite of sin and evil, God remains in control over all because He is all knowing.

Satan declared that he wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14), but he cannot be the Most High because he cannot be God. There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11, 44:6). As far as man’s free will is concerned, Tozer noted that a God who is less than sovereign would have difficulty with providing man with freedom to make choices. He would be restricted in His ability and; as a result, could not be God.

3.) God is holy. In order to begin to really understand the nature of God’s holiness, we have to look at the nature and character of God. When we compare our acts of human nature to the need to have Jesus Christ as our personal Savior that is merely the beginning of searching the depths of God’s holiness and power over sin and death. Scripture captures the magnitude, albeit immeasurable by human abilities, of God’s holiness:

 

Psalm 96:9 ESV

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.

Isaiah reflects the understanding of the disparity of God’s holiness and mankind when God calls Him into service as sees the ultimate vision:

Isaiah 6:1-8 HCSB

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;

His glory fills the whole earth.

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

Then I said: 

Woe is me for I am ruined

because I am a man of unclean lips

and live among a people of unclean lips,

and because my eyes have seen the King,

the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed

and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?

Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.

Tozer noted, “Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.” Furthermore, he said, “God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.” His desire is for each of us to strive to attain holiness as we grow in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Leviticus 19:2 ESV

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

We can only achieve holiness with the blood of Christ that covers our sins and through our faith in Jesus Christ. Our holiness is derived from how God sees us in His love for us through Jesus.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

4.) God is love. God’s love for us is far beyond how humans see love. It is an attribute of God in the same way that He is infinite, sovereign and holy. It defines Him and His actions for mankind because of the desire to not see anyone perish (1 Peter 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9) because of the actions of Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16-17).

We can only begin to describe His love because it is barely comprehendible. Even the angels marvel at how God is carrying out His salvation for His people (1 Peter 1:12).

He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 HCSB)

We must rely upon the words of John to best describe the sacrificial love and grace of God for each of us. He gives us the foundation of how we are to love others through His love for us.

1 John 4:7-12 HCSB

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

With these attributes we can only begin to see the nature and character of God. It is a way for each of us to contemplate who God is and what His relationship means to us. As we focus on who He is, we will learn more and more about Him as we bask in the glory of His presence and in the power of knowledge through the Holy Spirit. We can live a lifetime and still learn more about Him, but we will readily praise Him and glorify Him for who He is! He is the great I AM!

Romans 11:33-36 HCSB

Oh, the depth of the riches

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments

and untraceable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?

Or who has ever first given to Him,

and has to be repaid?

For from Him and through Him

and to Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines


The Wrath of God

A message summary of May 1, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

A lot of people go to church unaware of what or whom they are worshiping.

The saints of God are not appointed to God’s wrath, but it does not mean that there will not be suffering. The saints will be in opposition to those who are worshiping something other than God; specifically, the Antichrist. The world will eventually come more and more against those who are the true followers of Jesus Christ.

God is looking for a commitment from the people who are unsure about what to do. Paul said that he was not ashamed of God, and it is God’s power through salvation that protects the believer.

Wishy-washy Christians are unable to take a stand for Christ.

Believers will be under attack by Satan.

Revelation 6:9

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had.

Revelation 11:7

When they finish their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, conquer them, and kill them.

Revelation 13:7

And he was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. He was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.

The saints will have to endure and persevere. Those, however, who worship the beast and especially those who received the mark (a firm commitment to Satan) will receive their due.

Revelation 14:11-13

“…and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.” Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!”

Are you able to make your testimony stick before others?

In order to remain faithful to Jesus, you will need to endure a lot of hardship. The ones who remain faithful to the end will be blessed.

The content of the bowls have an effect only on those who have received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

Revelation 16:2

The first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and severely painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.

Exodus 10:21-23

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. One person could not see another, and for three days they did not move from where they were. Yet all the Israelites had light where they lived.

Exodus 9:25-26

Throughout the land of Egypt, the hail struck down everything in the field, both man and beast. The hail beat down every plant of the field and shattered every tree in the field. The only place it didn’t hail was in the land of Goshen where the Israelites were.

Exodus 8:22-23

But on that day I will give special treatment to the land of Goshen, where my people are living; no files will be there. This way you will know that I, Yahweh, am in the land. I will make a distinction between My people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow.

Even through the time of the Great Tribulation, God is protecting His people, and even in death. You are assured of eternal life and happiness with Him.

Those who do not take the mark of the beast were treated differently that those who did, but it hardly got them off the hook from God’s judgment.

God does not hold the unbeliever in esteem. He makes the distinction between those who are His and those who deny Him. Believers have the seal of Christ upon them.

There will be those who will still try to decide whose side they will be on.

Joshua 24:14-15

“Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh. But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.

This is belief in Christ in action.

Exodus 32:25-26

Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control, resulting in weakness before their enemies. And Moses stood at the camp’s entrance and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites gathered around him.

Revelation 16:9

…and people were burned by the intense heat. So they blasphemed the name of God, who had the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.

Titus 1:10

For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.

John 4:22

You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews.

Humanity has always been religious in some way, shape or form. No culture is without some sort of faith or some ritualistic practice of religion. Being religious is not a saving mark of God. You can be religious without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but you can’t be saved without Him.

Ephesians 1:13

When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9

You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Revelation 7:3

Dont harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the slaves of our God on their foreheads.

2 Timothy 2:19

Nevertheless, Gods solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription:

The Lord knows those who are His, and

Everyone who names the name of the Lord

must turn away from unrighteousness.